The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, was an invited speaker at last week’s inaugural webinar of “COVID-19 Exemplars: The Power of Positive Outliers, and What We Can Learn from Their Success”
Washington, D.C., July 27, 2020 (PAHO) — The July 20 webinar joined Dr. Etienne and other global health leaders in discussing how country-level decision-makers, global partners, and funders can make strategic decisions, allocate resources, and craft evidence-based policies to assure and advance country-level health successes. The webinar also featured Bill Gates and other public health experts including Dr. John Nkengasong, Dr. Muhammad Pate, Dr. Peter Piot, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Dr. Tom Frieden, and H.E. Vuc Dam of Vietnam. It was moderated by CNN’s Zain Verjee.
In her remarks, Dr. Etienne emphasized that countries with limited resources must balance fighting COVID-19 with maintaining essential health services. She highlighted the importance of continuing vital immunization programs in a safe manner, noting that PAHO has issued extensive guidance on these and other health services, including ways to continue caring for people with chronic diseases.
The Exemplars program began in 2016 studying positive examples of public health work in stunting, community health workers, vaccine delivery, and other themes. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it launched a new program, entitled “Exemplars in Epidemic Response and Preparedness,” to better understand country-level successes in epidemic preparedness and help decision-makers develop more effective policies.
Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the US Centers for Disease Control, outlined the characteristics of successful country responses to COVID19 – including data-driven approaches, clear communications, and strong political commitments.
As opening speaker, Mr. Gates emphasized the importance of equitably distributed diagnostics, therapies and vaccines.
The webinar was co-hosted by AMREF Health Africa, the Center for Global Development, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).